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Living a Good Life: God's Design For Success, Part 2

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
The Truth Network Radio
February 12, 2024 10:00 am

Living a Good Life: God's Design For Success, Part 2

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

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February 12, 2024 10:00 am

We all have a God-given drive for success, but who is defining what success really means? What is our ambition rooted in?

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Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. We all have a God-given drive for success, but we have to stop and ask ourselves, who is defining what success really means? What is our ambition rooted in? Today, Pastor Rich unpacks Ecclesiastes 4 and helps us see the difference between the way the world thinks about success, a self-preeminent striving to achieve, versus God's design for success under his purpose and community.

Let's listen in. This is the second part of the message from Ecclesiastes 4. It's part of a series on the book of Ecclesiastes called Living a Good Life, Making Success of the Journey. It was originally preached on April 15, 2018. What has God given us?

Because if we're simply earthbound in our thinking and we're consumed with a question, how am I doing, then there are two reactions to this overwhelming negativity, this oppressive reality. And the first one is to drop out. Look what he says in verse 5. The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.

Now that's an image for you, isn't it? Drop out. Inverted access to just live for myself. Either I become a recluse or I just give up on life. I can be still personally productive as a recluse. And by the way, I have a tendency to do that. I am an introvert, you know, you say, right, rich. No, really I am. I am naturally an introvert.

I've just learned to ask questions. Then the other person has to do all the talking, right? But being a, listen, being a recluse, if your reaction to the oppressive realities of life, if your reaction to that is being a recluse or laziness, then that's a way of not loving your neighbor. Because the opposite of love is indifference. And it eats away at the individual. It eats away not only at the individual, but also at those who know him and her or love him and her. It eats away.

It's a cancer. And this is why he says in verse 3, look at verse 3, better than both. That's the person who is currently alive or the person that is now dead. Better than both of those is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the. It's better to not ever have been born. That way you will never have experienced the oppressions of life.

That's pretty negative view, isn't it? That's life under the sun. Better dead. And there are many people who feel that way because they become so preoccupied in themselves that they say it's better to just... I'm just going to die. I'm just going to take my own life.

And many people do that. It's a form of self-loathing. But did you know that self-loathing is just another form of self-preoccupation? You're thinking about yourself too much.

I want you to think about that because that's not according to popular psychology today. But sometimes we drop in our reactions to the oppressive realities of life. Sometimes we just drop out.

Here's another reaction. Busyness. Busyness. Busyness for accumulation. No end to the toil. But it says the person is never satisfied. And when I get done with this one thing that I have worked so hard for, then I'm on to the next novelty. Why? Because the person is never satisfied. There's no end to the toil.

And I never, that person never, verse 8, never asks the question, for whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure? That's another form of self-preoccupation. Both of these reactions are not loving your neighbor. Both of these. And they are not accurate reactions.

They are not accurate responses to the oppressive reality of life. There is a better option. There is a better option. And what is better is quietness.

Look with me at verse 6. Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and striving after wind. Two hands full of toil. That's the workaholic.

That's the person who keeps himself inordinately busy just to handle the realities of life and keep going on to the next novelty. Better is quietness. It is better to balance toil and rest. When work is done, it's done.

Go home and enjoy your family and rest. Refresh your soul. A lot of people need to learn that balance today. Let me tell you something. That's hard as a pastor. That's hard.

But it needs to be done. Better is quietness because quietness is, you say, well, see Rich, there you go. See, I tend to be more of a reclusive introvert and say it's better just go home and lock yourself in a closet.

Just let the world go on. I'm going to, you know, I'm going to be quiet and live, you know, live to myself. That's not what quietness is talking about. The quietness that is talking about here is peace of mind and calmness of soul.

Peace of mind and calmness of soul. Understanding that you don't need to be in control. In fact, trying to be in control is itself a delusion. You cannot control. You can be a good steward, but you cannot control.

And you don't have to be in control. And therefore now you have that peace of mind. But also it clears the mind of clutter and it clears the heart of all the noise of things that are demanding your allegiance and your attention. And it clears the mind and the heart so that you are able then to enjoy life and share.

To enjoy life and share. But see, this quietness, this peace of mind and calmness of soul only comes from God through Jesus Christ in His Spirit. It was Jesus who said, my peace I give to you.

Not as the world gives. The world has a whole different idea of peace. But Jesus said, I give my peace to you. Do you know the peace of Jesus today? Do you have that calmness of mind and quietness of soul? Or your heart and mind filled with the clutter of all the things that are demanding our allegiance? You see, this only comes from God. And as it comes from God, this leads us to a better question. Better than how am I doing? Because we can be so preoccupied with that, can't we? A better question than how am I doing is how are we doing?

How are we doing? This is verses 9 to 12. This is a beautiful golden nugget right here in the middle of chapter 4. It says two are better than one. Two are better than one. This is the antithesis of I did it my way.

Or it's my life. I'll do it the way I want to. Two are better than one. You see, the drive to succeed is mature. As Jay Stafford Wright says, the drive to succeed is mature when it has its interplay with the whole of society. Society begins with one's neighbor. Two acting together are better than one selfish individual.

How are we doing? Why does it say two are better than one? And a three-fold cord is not easily broken. What does that mean? Why are two better than one? Two reasons it gives here. Number one, you have a greater reward. You have a greater reward. The greater rewards of joy, of the benefit that comes from it, the productivity, the mutual skill, counsel, striving together, and also the rescue from self-preoccupation.

Two are better than one. And then secondly, mutual support in verses 10, 11, and 12. Mutual support. Support in the characteristics of a fallen, groaning creation.

So much of this creation in our environment is hostile to life, hostile to biblical success and progress. And we need that mutual support in the events of failure. If one falls, then another person is there to pick them up in the event of an unsupportive environment. Did you know cold is hostile to life?

Coldness is hostile to life. And if one person can't keep warm, the other person is there to keep them warm. Two are better than one. And thirdly, in times of opposition, two are better than one because we're going to encounter opposition in life.

And that's why he says a threefold cord is not easily broken. So maybe he could keep going on here to say three is better than two, four is better than three, and on it goes. Because God is community and we were designed in God's image, we were designed to flourish in community with each other.

How are we doing? You see, God has given you a life to share. God has given you a life to share. And this goes very much in line with so much of what we find in scripture.

First of all, the command to love your neighbor as yourself. You say, Rich, I don't really love myself. Yes, you do. Do you clothe yourself? You've got clothes on right now. Do you bathe yourself? Do you feed yourself?

Do you dress a wound? You love yourself. Do it to your neighbor.

This is what this text is telling us. Love your neighbor as yourself. You know, Jesus even raised the bar on that is to love others as I have loved you. So it's not just meeting needs, but it is sacrificing yourself.

How are we doing? The command to love your neighbor. Also in scripture, the virtue of coming alongside to walk together.

The whole idea of parakletos. This is what the Holy Spirit is for. This is what Jesus did. He came to us. God has spoken to us in his son. God walked among men.

He came to us because God asked the question, how are we doing? Speaking of not the Trinity, but of God and man. Man needs to be reconciled to God.

And he sent us Jesus to reconcile us to himself through his sacrifice. And then thirdly, the reflection of the character and behavior of God. Reflection of the character and behavior of God.

God has given you a life to share. Sharing that life is a reflection of the character and behavior of God. God is community. We're made in his image.

We were designed to thrive in community. God is gracious. And you cannot be gracious unless you are asking the question, how are we doing?

That's why Jesus shared his life with you and for you, because God desires you to be reconciled to himself. Think about that. And so it comes the next question. Then this question. Let's think about this for a moment.

Why this? Think we, not me. Think we, not me. We need to change the way we think, because there's a default way of thinking. And the default human way of thinking is how am I doing? What is life doing to me? How am I responding? How is this making me feel? Change the way you think and start thinking we, not me.

Now, what's there? We is in the subjective case there, isn't it? We are. We have. We can.

We will. Think in those terms instead of me is in the objective case. What is happening to me? What are these people doing for me?

You see, that's the natural flesh that tends to ask that. But Paul says, do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but in humility, count others more significant than yourself. Let each of you look not only in his own interest, but also in the interest of others. We're so glad you're here. I'm glad you've joined us for Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. You can hear this message and others anytime by visiting our website, You can also check out Pastor Rich's book, Seven Words That Can Change Your Life, where he unpacks from God's word the very purpose for which you were designed. Seven Words That Can Change Your Life is available wherever books are sold. As always, tune in to Delight in Grace weekdays at 10 a.m.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-12 14:24:25 / 2024-02-12 14:29:34 / 5

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